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Federal Bank Fraud

Certain crimes are unlawful under both state and federal law. This is true for bank fraud, which has been prohibited by the Florida Legislature, as well as Congress. While both laws criminalize similar behavior, federal offenses are generally considered to be more serious, as they usually involve allegations of conduct that crosses state lines, are aggressively prosecuted, and come with severe penalties. For these reasons, it is critical for those who have been charged with federal bank fraud to retain an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help them begin formulating a strong defense.

Defining Bank Fraud

Bank fraud is broadly defined as knowingly executing or attempting to execute a scheme to:

  • Defraud a bank; or
  • Obtain any of the funds, assets, credits, securities, or property owned by or under the control of a bank by means of false promises.

Because this definition is so broad, bank fraud charges can be levied for a wide range of conduct. However, regardless of the type of conduct in question, prosecutors must satisfy a series of elements in order to obtain a conviction, which includes proving that:

  • The defendant intentionally carried out a plan to acquire money from a bank by making false statements;
  • The defendant knew that the statements being made were false;
  • The statements allegedly made by the defendant were material, which means that they were the type of statement that would successfully influence a financial institution into giving up property or money;
  • The defendant intended to defraud the institution; and
  • The banking institution in question was federally chartered or insured.

Congress also intended the law to have extra-territorial reach in cases where a defendant victimized an insured financial institution by using a bogus offshore account. According to the Department of Justice, even if the fraudulent conduct occurred outside of U.S. borders, a person can still be charged in federal court, as long as he or she is somewhere in the country.

Potential Penalties

Defendants who are convicted of federal bank fraud could spend up to 30 years in prison and be required to pay a fine of $1,000,000, although the severity of a sentence will depend largely on the total amount of value that was taken during the fraudulent transaction. It is also not uncommon for those who are charged with a serious federal offense like bank fraud to be charged in conjunction with another white collar crime, such as mail or wire fraud. This means that most defendants face not only the penalties involved with conviction for bank fraud, but also for lesser crimes.

Call Today for Help with Your Case

To learn more about the elements of bank fraud and the potential defenses available to those who have been accused of this, and similar crimes, please call dedicated Miami white collar crime attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at (305) 670-9919. And remember, initial consultations are conducted free of charge!

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